Tuesday, May 3, 2022

NFC North Draft Grades and Analysis

The NFL Draft has been over for a few days now and it has given the NFL community plenty of time to analyze and give their own personal opinions on how teams did. With a record setting 9 trades in the 1st Round (the most since 2004), there was plenty action and a few surprising moves. 

I will be giving my opinion on how I think the NFC North played out and how each team did. (Disclaimer - I will mainly be making my grades based on rounds 1-4 with rounds 5-7 into minimal consideration since they are essentially guessing anyways).

With that being said let's start with the Minnesota Vikings. 

Minnesota Vikings 

Grade: B+

Grading the Vikings was more difficult than I imagined. Not only because I had to remove as much bias as possible but because I still do not know how I feel about trading back from 12 to 32. I was not happy on draft night but as the days have passed, I am starting to see the vision Kwesi and KOC have for the future of this team. 

Selecting Lewis Cine out of Georgia was an extremely underrated pick and could end up being a home run. I had a feeling that Cine was much more popular among NFL front offices than he was in the media - evidenced by the Dallas Cowboys having Cine as the #13 overall player on their big board. However, the Vikings 2nd round selection they picked up from Detroit is what really makes this draft great. 

Being able to select Booth at 42nd is a robbery and nothing short of that. Booth has the potential to be a shutdown boundary corner in this league very quickly with his ball skills and explosiveness. Although the injuries are a concern to an extent, I am not as worried as others. 

Ed Ingram was also a solid selection in my opinion. While I think it was potentially a little rich to be selected as high as he was, Ingram is a proven starter that thrives in the pass game who gives competition for the starting right guard spot and could potentially take Bradbury's gig as the starting center. 

Brian Asamoah is a slightly undersized linebacker but makes up for it in the explosiveness category. With a great performance at the senior bowl, Asamoah shot up big boards and can really fly around the field with great lateral quicks. Love this pick as well. 

Akayleb Evans. This pick was Kwesi's baby. This is the selection that he is clearly excited about because he believes this could be the dark horse of this draft for the team, evidenced in his quote about watching players in the dark and seeing potential in players that other people don't see. Right now, there is much uncertainty with this pick which keeps me from giving this an A- draft, but the potential is definitely there. 

Detroit Lions

Grade: B+

Personally, I really like the direction the Lions are headed as a franchise. It seems they found their guy in Dan Campbell and with a good draft like this, it shows much improvement. 

The Lions walked away with the best EDGE in this class with Aiden Hutchinson. Not much else to say besides that. Big bonuses to the fact that he is a hometown kid and went to UM and is a natural leader. 

The Jameson Williams pick was slightly confusing to me. While Jameson is an absolute game breaker and can stretch the field, it seems like an unnecessary pick for what the Lions need - talent at multiple positions. This was already an incredibly deep WR class and while they landed one of the best guys, they gave up the 32, 34 and 66 picks to do so. I think the Lions would have been better off taking more swings of the bat and selecting a slightly worse WR in the 3rd or 4th rounds. 

Josh Pascal is another solid pick. Double dipping and selecting another EDGE is a move I actually really like for a team that struggled to get to the quarterback last year. Pascal is another great locker room presence for a team trying to shift the culture around Detroit football, and makes the reach not as much of a reach when you view it like that. 

Kerby Joseph is a decent player as well. Good athlete that stitched positions multiple times at Illinois but found his groove in his final year playing safety. Not super encouraging he didn't produce until his senior year but better late than never. 

Green Bay Packers

Grade: B-

I believe the Pack did a much better job in Days 2 and 3 of the draft than they did in Day 1. 

Quay Walker was an interesting one and is viewed as more developmental than immediate starter. I think the Packers should have taken an immediate starter to capitalize on their super bowl window with Aaron Rodgers returning to the helm, which leads to their next selection in Devonte Wyatt at 28. 

Going into the draft I was VERY high on Devonte Wyatt and he will be a great addition to that D-line. Super polished and not many areas of weakness in his game. Great selection. 

Christian Watson is also a player I very much believe in, but not at 34 with a deep WR class. The Packers gave up draft capital to get Aaron Rodgers his Adams replacement. While the Packers have a history of drafting great receivers in the 2nd round, this one felt too rich. They could have landed someone else later in the 2nd like Sky Moore, Pickens, Jalen Tolbert, etc. without losing out on extra picks. 

Some picks from Day 3 I really like were OL Zach Tom and EDGE Kingsley Enagbare both were great selections and should contribute quickly as the future successor to David Bakhtiari and recently moved Za'darius Smith (SKOL). 

Chicago Bears

Grade: C-

With new GM Ryan Poles and new HC Matt Eberflus, a new regime steps in to save the franchise! Wrong. The Bears are doing no favors for 2nd year QB Justin Fields to succeed in this league behind a putrid O-line and one of the worst receiver rooms in football. With 0 first round picks, the Bears failed to land any top tier talent anywhere in this draft. 

Kyler Gordon was the team's first selection, and I don't hate it. Project corner with plus athleticism. Needs to see more reps and learn discipline at the NFL level before he can become a really solid contributor. 

Jaquan Brisker is also a really good pick as someone who can play downhill football and is not afraid to stuff his nose in the run game.

I appreciate the fact that the Bears are revamping their secondary for coach Matt Eberflus but that unfortunately comes at the cost of helping their young QB. This is where my problem in this draft lies. 

With their 3rd selection of this draft the Bears chose Velus Jones Jr., a 25-year-old project WR out of Tennessee who's only attraction is his return ability with his 4.31 speed. That's it. Maybe it is personal preference, but I do not like the idea of a 25-year-old rookie who needs time to get better. And by that point he would likely be in his late 20s. I would have liked to see them draft someone with more polish who can really help Justin Fields in the immediate sense and not down the road. 

With this being the first draft for Ryan Poles, I am not much of a believer for the future.

Overall, I think the NFC North as a whole did a pretty poor job in the draft compared to the other divisions in football. But that is the beauty of the draft. Nobody knows how these players will turn out and it is draft rule to expect the unexpected!

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